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June 21, 2005

This week's Stage Leftover rebroadcast comes from December 14th, 2004. It's a Spike Jones special, with musical depreciation for all!

Selection Source Performer(s) Comments

Lindley Armstrong "Spike" Jones  was born in Long Beach, California on December 14, 1911. He became a drummer and bandleader, initially supporting such performers as Al Jolson on the Kraft Music Hall radio program and Bing Crosby on his recording of “White Christmas”.  He started The City Slickers in 1940, began recording for RCA in 1941, and had his first gold record in 1942 with “Der Fuerhrer’s Face”.

Other band members were George Rock – who played trumpet and specialized in the “baby” voice heard on “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” and “You Wanna Buy a Bunny” - and vocalists Doodles Weaver and Red Ingle.  Jones's wife was the singer Helen Grayco, who performed on some of his radio shows and a handful of recordings.

Jones’ radio show ran for several seasons in the 1940s, with guests ranging from Frank Sinatra to Lassie.   He also had a TV show that aired on NBC in 1954 and on CBS as a summer replacement series (back when all the networks had separate “regular” and “summer” seasons) in 1957, 1960 and 1961 (the year in which his last recordings were made).

A heavy smoker, Jones died from emphysema on May 1st, 1965 and was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

The Jones band has a St. Louis connection: local singer Georgy Rock is George Rock’s daughter.  She remembers her late father as a very warm and very funny guy.

Nukes in the NewsGive Us a BreakProctor and BergmanNed Bent of General Defective explains the hidden costs of nuclear power - like his salary.
Der Fuerhrer's FaceSpike Jones' Greatest HitsSpike Jones and His City Slickers; Carl Grayson (vocal), Willie Spicer (birdaphone)From the 1942 Disney cartoon Nuttsey Land, this was Jones' first gold record.
Ghost Riders in the SkySpike JonesSpike Jones and His City SlickersThis song has been recorded by everybody from Peggy Lee to Lee and the Press-On Nails (honest!), but Jones had baritone Vaughn Monroe's top 10 version in mind here.
The Tennessee WaltzSpike Jones' Greatest HitsSpike Jones and His City Slickers; Sara Berner and Sir Frederick Gas (vocals)This is another old favorite. In this case it was a Tennessee Ernie Ford recording that Jones had in mind. Jones' approach: do the whole thing in hokey Yiddish dialect.
The Sheik of ArabySpike Jones' Greatest HitsSpike Jones and His City Slickers; Del Porter and Carl Grayson (vocals)He took the same approach here.
Pootwaddle CigarettesSpike JonesDoodles WeaverAnd this was years before the Surgeon General's report!
My Old FlameJazz 'round MidnightBilly Eckstine and Jack Miller OrchestraFirst, Eckstine's typically smooth take on this pop standard, which was written by Arthur Johnson.
My Old FlameThe Best of Spike JonesSpike Jones and His City Slickers; Paul Judson and Paul Frees (vocals) Now the Jones touch, with Paul Frees doing a Peter Lorre impersonation. Paul Judson sings the "straight" introduction in a style that is actually somewhat reminiscent of Eckstine.
Holiday for StringsFiddlers On the RoofManhattan Pops OrchestraThis was a massive hit for the David Rose Orchestra in the 1940s. This recording sticks pretty close to the original.
Holiday for StringsSpike Jones' Greatest HitsSpike Jones and His City SlickersThis one is silly from the get-go. Instead of strings, Jones gives us cowbells, chicken clucks and laughs.
Monolithic Oil The Best of the National Lampoon Radio Hour Bob Dryden They want you - to pay!
CarmenSpike Jones is Murdering the ClassicsSpike Jones and His City Slickers; Eileen Gallagher (messy soprano), Harry Stanton (bass barracuda), Sir Frederick Gas, The Hollywood Bowling Choral GroupHere it is, Spike's masterwork: the demolition of Bizet's opera in under thirteen minutes. Maestro Jones himself narrates.
The Hawaiian War ChantThe Best of Spike JonesSpike Jones and His Wacky Wakakians with Chorus; Don Ameche (narration)The first version of this was Jones' big hit of 1946, but I prefer this later recording.
Onion Radio 7The Onion's Finest News ReportingDoyle Redland High Court Bans Same-Sex Friendships. This is comedy, honest!
Chloe (Song of the Swamp) Louis Armstrong's All-Time Greatest Hits Louis Armstrong This sentimental Neil Moret/Gus Kahn number about a lonley guy searching for his girl in (for reasons known only the the lyricist) a swamp was a hit in the 1920s. In Armstrong's recording (from the 1950s, I think) the swamp is clearly somewhere near New Orleans.
Chloe (Song of the Swamp) Spike Jones' Greatest Hits Red "Swamphead Ingle, Spike Jones and His City Slickers Jones and company didn't get around to trashing this one until 1945.
Laura Spiked! Jimmy Cassidy, Red Ingle, Dr. Horatio Q. Birdbath, Spike Jones and His Other Orchestra Johnny Mercer put lyrics to this theme from David Raskin's score for the 1944 suspense film Laura and it became a major hit. This parody dates from May of 1946.
Pal-Yat-Chee Spiked!Spike Jones and His City Slickers; Homer and Jethro (vocals) with Sir Frederick GasRecorded in March of 1950, this manages to sum up Puccini's verismo classic in just under three minutes and still throw in a bit of Khachaturian. Liner notes for this CD, by the way, are by noted author Thomas Pynchon.
Gentlemen of GolfThe Bill Cosby Radio ShowBill CosbyAll right, so maybe they're not always gentlemen.
McGregor's KiltsThe Dead Alewives web siteThe Dead AlewivesPutting a human face on international trade issues.
Rhapsody from Hunger(y)Spike Jones is Murdering the ClassicsSpike Jones and His City Slickers; Helen Grayco and Freddy Morgan (vocals)Liszt (among others) gets trashed here. Grayco was, in real life, Mrs. Spike Jones
LiebestraumSpike Jones is Murdering the ClassicsSpike Jones and His City Slickers; Red Ingle and Richard Morgan (vocals)Ol' Franz gets it once again, this time with assistance from Freddy's brother Richard. Nepotism abounds!
The Blue DanubeSpike Jones is Murdering the ClassicsSpike Jones and His City Slickers; Carl Grayson, Del Porter and The Boys in the Backroom (vocals)This time the Waltz King is dethroned, as we are reminded that the Danube isn't really blue.
The William Tell OvertureSpike Jones' Greatest HitsSpike Jones and His City Slickers with Doodles Weaver (narrator)Recorded in October of 1947, this was another big hit for the band. George Carlin admits to being inspired by it as a kid.
Dr. AudioDuck's Breath Mystery TheatreDuck's Breath Mystery TheatreWe pause for an educational moment with Dr. Audio (who sounds an awful like Dr. Science).
In a Persian MarketSpike JonesSpike Jones and His City SlickersI have yet to determine when this was recorded, but I suspect it's from Spike's '50s TV show.
PowerhouseSpiked!Spike Jones; other personnel unknownThis recording of the Raymond Scott classic (used, in whole or in part, in many Warner Brothers cartoons) and the next were recorded in 1961 for the Liberty LP Persuasive Percussion.
Frantic FreewaySpiked!Spike Jones; other personnel unknownThese are, as far as I know, Jones last recordings before his death of emphysema in 1965.
The Spike Jones Laughing RecordSpike Jones is Murdering the ClassicsSpike Jones and His City Snickers; Frank Leithner (piano), Thomas Pederson (trombone)This one manages to be a parody of both Rimski-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” and the famous/infamous “OKeh Laughing Record” from the ‘20s.

Acronyms and other mysteries defined:

OC: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Cast recording of a Broadway show, along with the date.

OS: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Soundtrack recording of a film, TV show, etc.

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